These days will come again ...


OYT South bulletin 20th November 2020

In this Bulletin
Sections which have changed since last time marked *

* Why we care about sail training - send in your stories!
With no voyage reports for a while, it will be good to keep reminding ourselves about the value of our charitable work, the life-changing experiences and fantastic fun and friendship on our voyages. If you have a treasured memory of sailing with us, or a tale of a voyage you will never forget, or a funny story, please send it to and we'll publish the best in future editions of this newsletter.

Tomorrow marks the 17th anniversary of the first issue of this newsletter, which was issued on 21st November 2003 to a mailing list a fraction of the size of the one we use today! Today’s newsletter is the 702nd issue since that first one. If anyone would like to claim that they have read every issue, do let us know!

The bulletin for this week in previous years has generally been all about the winter refit and in particular putting together the core team of volunteers who were often joining us for the whole winter to help get the boat in excellent condition. In November 2004 we were welcoming Kathryn Francis who had just left college, quickly acquired the name “Gizmo” and stayed involved with us for years, becoming one of our youngest second mates and then taking part in the ASTO Skippership scheme.


Others on the core team that year were Ceri “Bridget” Adams and Kerry “Special K” McMillan who went on to become a first mate with us before spending years in other sail training roles – including Staff Skipper with OYT Scotland and Operations Manager for the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust.


Special K

In 2007, watchleader John Snowden was undertaking his favourite refit job: we needed to drop John Laing’s rudder which – short of lifting the boat half a metre up in the air - required a half-metre deep hole to be dug below the rudder. Which produced this flattering photo:


Rudder - John and Stuart

In this week in 2008 we were lifting John Laing out of the water:


The bulletin in 2009 announced Kirsten Mackay as the new Staff Bosun as Liz Key was leaving after two great years in post. Liz was a popular and highly effective Staff Bosun but among her many talents was an ability deliberately to avoid appearing in any of our vast collection of photographs!

In 2010 a new core refit team was getting into the swing of things, with Fiona Keen, Audrey Knight and Elizabeth Brown. John Laing was out of the water and covered with a tent which soon displayed “portraits” of the team:




In 2012 we were between Staff Skippers and Ben “Sparky” Whinnett, who had been a core team volunteer in 2008, became Refit Manager for the winter:


Alongside Staff Bosun Dave Bland …


… and the first of that year’s core team, Carrie Potter:


See below for Carrie’s account of her experience.

In 2013 we were moving John Laing round to the Hamble to be lifted out of the water:

John Laing

We also had a piano concert by Helen Morris in aid of OYT South – organised by Sue Cheshire. It raised some useful funds but also in the audience was Nick Steel who went on to become one of our regular volunteers!

In this week in 2014 we were once again getting the masts out before lifting the boat:

Rig berth


By 2016 we were working on Prolific, which had been in refit all year and was now being prepared for winter staff training as we all adapted to a very different boat. Peta had joined us as Sailing Support Officer alongside Skipper Andy and Engineer Josh and the core team volunteers Sophie Palmer, Matt Warwick and Tom Tindall. Unusually for this time of year, we had launched a very shiny boat rather than lifting one looking slightly the worse for wear!


At this time in 2017 we had a couple of short voyages for staff training and to introduce some potential members of the winter refit team to sailing the boat. This included a cracking sail down to Weymouth during which a helicopter took some fabulous photos of the boat. The volunteer refit team that year was Georgia Watson, George Barnes, Angelika Skrynska and Sookie Fishbacher as well as Charles Kingston and Susanna Paynter who each did part of the refit.

2017 refit team

There were no bulletins in this week in 2018 or 2019. So that brings us almost up to the present day! Please send in your contributions for future issues.

We hope these forays into the past are entertaining you while we cannot sail at the moment – and reminding everyone of how much effort so many people have put in over the years to ensure that we can keep helping young people develop the skills to succeed in life!

Back to index

* What happened to our core team refit volunteers? Carrie Potter’s story
Every winter we take on a few full-time volunteers to join the staff and form a core team who work together for the whole winter. The core team volunteers get food and accommodation as well as useful experience and hopefully a lot of fun and friendship. Some core team volunteers end up sailing with us and staying involved long-term; others move on. We thought it would be interesting to catch up with a few previous volunteers and see how they look back on their refit winter – and find out if the experience has made any difference to their lives. It’s often fascinating to see how involvement with the charity doesn’t just make a lasting different to young people on our voyages, but also to people who are involved with us in different ways.

This week, Carrie Potter’s story from the refit core team 2012-13:

“2012/2013 refitter here! I don't sail with the charity any more due to time and personal reasons. I was refitting during a gap year between college and uni, went to uni afterwards, and graduated and started working as a cartographer. After four years of promotions I work verifying ENCs (Electronic Navigational Charts) for commercial and defence users. Refit helped me become sea staff with OYT South, which built my sea-going experience and navigation. Thanks to that, when wandering around the uni careers fair not knowing what to do for a job, seeing a banner with charts in the background caught my eye. I never really thought how charts were made, so I applied and got to interview. Thankfully, the group task was about questions on chart number 2045, the Outer Approaches to the Solent! So thanks to the sailing experience, I got the job, and then used a sailing trip as an example for my next promotion. I'm also much better at DIY thanks to refit, and I made friends for life I still see on occasion. I also really came out of my shell while on refit, becoming more confident and more of myself thanks to putting myself out of my comfort zone (physically and mentally!)”

This is Carrie (on the left) with her team:

2012-13 refit team

We'd be interested to hear from everyone who has been part of a winter refit core team – whether or not you are still actively involved with the charity – to find out what you are doing now and what effect joining the full-time refit team has had on your life.

Back to index

Refit plans this winter

As we explained in more detail at the start of November, we are doing a refit this year but for reasons of cost and COVID-safety, we are keeping it as small as possible and won’t be calling for the usual army of volunteer help. If anything comes up where we do need help and can manage it safely, we will let you know; but in the meantime we want to thank everyone who has worked so hard on Prolific in recent years and ensured that the boat is in such a good condition that we only need to tackle the bare essentials this year.

Back to index

2021 sailing plans

As we explained in more detail at the beginning of November, we are determined to do everything possible to sail next season and not spend another year with Prolific in harbour. There are still a lot of unknowns about what might be possible with voyages in 2021 and there will need to be some changes: but we DO hope and expect to be needing volunteer sea staff in 2021!

Back to index

2021 volunteer bookings

Because we hope to be sailing in 2021 and we know that volunteer sea staff need to have dates in your diaries, we plan to take sea staff bookings as normal. We obviously have to accept that not all voyages will necessarily go ahead exactly as planned, but it is much better to have a team of volunteers provisionally booked and available for each voyage period – it would be quite impossible to put teams together at the last minute.

Therefore, if you want to sail as a volunteer in 2021, you can now start sending in details of when you are available and how much time you can spare, just as you did last year - but please read the rest of this section before doing so!

If you have had a skipper's recommendation (which means that EITHER you have sailed on a youth voyage and been told at the end that you have been recommended to come back for bosun or watchleader training, or you have done an adult voyage and been given a recommendation at the end) but are not yet an assessed and qualified member of sea staff, your next step is to sail on a youth voyage of four nights or more, for further training and assessment. Not all voyages are suitable for this but please send in details of your availability and we'll aim to match you with an appropriate voyage.

Qualified sea staff (anyone who sailed with us as a watchleader, bosun or engineer in 2019 or previously) - ideally please give us voyage numbers of anything you would like to do (see here for voyage numbers); or give us names of any regular clients you'd particularly like to sail with. But if you have really flexible availability, the easiest thing is to tell us the maximum number of days you can offer in 2021.

Please note that we DO need you to send in details of when you can sail (whether specific voyage numbers, or an idea of the times of year you can or can’t do - e.g. if you can only sail in school/college/uni holidays - in which case do give us exact dates) and/or how much time you can offer - please DON'T email to ask what voyage dates are available. The reasons for this are complicated but it’s basically all about the need to put together teams of sea staff with the right blend of experience, qualifications and skills, rather than booking people one-by-one.

We really need to get bids in from as many people as possible before we can start the allocation process and it can take until January before we can start confirming bookings for every voyage. If you really need an answer more quickly than that then please tell us your deadline and we will do our best for you!

Once the main round of allocations is completed we will advertise any remaining gaps, but you may find there's not a lot of choice at that stage. Please send bids or questions to

Back to index

2021 volunteer training – on board

Because none of our volunteers have sailed Prolific for a year, we will aim to run some refresher trips before the start of the season. 

For those of you who were with us in winter 2016-17 when Prolific was new to the charity, we have something similar in mind: short voyages including weekend options, just so that watchleaders, first mates and skippers are comfortable, confident and safe before we start sailing with young people again. We will publish dates for pre-season training voyages in this newsletter as soon as we can.

Back to index

* 2021 volunteer training – shorebased

We are not planning the usual face-to-face February shorebased training weekend in 2021 but we are looking at options for a weekend of online training via Zoom – if you have any ideas for training you could offer or courses you would value, do let us know.

Meanwhile we are going through the list of active volunteers to see who has expired qualifications or anything that will need renewing during next season. Because we won't be able to run a first aid course as we normally do in February, we'll aim to let people know in good time so that volunteers can hopefully arrange to do a course locally.

Back to index

Please contribute to Peta’s leaving present - two weeks to go

Big thanks to the people who have contributed! If anyone else is still thinking of contributing, please note that the fund will close at the end of November as we need to have a final figure to spend on her present.

Other readers may have seen from recent newsletters that our wonderful staff skipper Peta Koczy is moving on. We’ll see her again as a relief skipper, and Prolific will be in excellent hands with the return of Holly Vint to OYT South, taking over as Staff Skipper in November. But meanwhile there is a web page for donations to Peta’s leaving present: please help us show our appreciation for Peta’s contribution to the charity over the last four years!

Peta and Holly

Back to index

* Financial appeal

Huge thanks this week to the Association of Sail Training Organisations which has made a second round of generous grants to ASTO members who have lost income due to COVID-19. Massive thanks also to the Ellis Campbell Foundation whose latest grant towards the salary of our Staff Cadet has now reached us; and to P66, the company where our Trustee Ben Martin works. P66 chose OYT South as their charity of the year and their staff have been raising funds for us. This week we learned of two very successful activities – a charity raffle with proceeds matched by the company, and a distance running challenge where staff were encouraged to run as fast or slow as they wanted and log distance towards their team total, with the company donating £10 per kilometre. The staff managed to run 338.40 km so this produced another really significant donation!

Thanks also to JP and JPS Fuels, for a kind offer to donate lubricants for Prolific’s engine again. A reminder of JP’s involvement with OYT South and a fantastic example of the difference that sailing with us can make:


Big thanks also to all our other supporters and friends who have responded with such kindness and generosity to our appeal this year. We are not thanking everyone individually in the bulletin only because quite a few people have asked to remain anonymous; but we are truly grateful to all of you. Everyone who has contributed and is still contributing is playing a huge part in getting us through this long period with no voyage income, and ensuring that the charity will be strong enough to do important work with young people who will need us more than ever, as soon as we can safely sail again.

See here for how to make a donation - you can contribute by cheque, phone or PayPal, but please do something if you possibly can. Don't forget that if you complete and return a Gift Aid form (pdf) we can claim back tax on your donation.

Back to index

2021 draft sailing programme

We have made some revisions to our draft 2021 sailing programme, partly because we now have dates for some races and events which will require changes to the original draft, but also because we want to make sure there is extra time for thorough cleaning of the boat between voyages, which has ruled out those occasions when two voyages were scheduled in quick succession without much of a gap between them. We’re just at the start of the process of contacting everyone who lost a voyage this year to see what we might be able to rearrange for you next year and how it can work  – please bear with us as it will take a while to contact everyone!

Back to index

OYT South social media – please get involved
One of the simplest ways you can help us while we can’t sail is to keep looking at our social media pages and share, retweet or like as many posts as possible. This all helps to make sure other people hear about us too – and the more we can keep alive the interest in our charitable work, the more people might help us now or start to think about sailing with us in future. Maybe you’ve got a community group, a local page, even a street WhatsApp where members might like to know that you are involved with a charity that could be of interest to them?

We are on Facebook at - please do give us a Like! If you were friends with John Laing on our old page ( please do move to the new page now.

We are also on Twitter @oytsouth so please follow us!

And Instagram @oyt_south

And LinkedIn Ocean Youth Trust South

Please note that OYT South has a policy that our adult staff and volunteers should not make or accept individual online friend requests with crew members aged under 18, or vulnerable adults. Crew members can use the sites to stay in touch with the boat and with each other, but not with individual staff and volunteers.

Back to index

Online training courses for volunteers - why not get qualified and improve your skills now?
If you can't get involved in your normal activities at the moment, maybe it's a good time to think about some qualifications and training? 

Our friends at SeaRegs Training have online distance learning systems for the theory courses for Day Skipper, Coastal/Yachtmaster and Yachtmaster Ocean. And OYT South second mate Dom Coleman also runs an excellent sea school offering RYA online courses fully supported by phone, email or video.

OYT South offers basic navigation training in-house through the RYA's Essential Navigation & Seamanship course - and we can also arrange the PPR course (RYA Professional Practices and Responsibilities) for sea staff. 

Please do ask for advice if you are not sure which courses are right for you.

We also offer a range of courses outside sailing and navigation, for our volunteers - including vital courses on Safeguarding and Food Hygiene, as well as things like Mental Wellbeing in Sport and Physical Activity, Preventing Bullying, Online Safety, Concussion Awareness and all sorts of other things - do have a look. Just one £10 payment (special price available only to our volunteers and prospective volunteers) gives you access to ALL these courses.

It would be great if we could get back up and running with lots of our volunteers having additional skills and knowledge!

Back to index

Online fundraising - are you helping us raise funds?

OYT South is registered with Amazon Smile which makes donations to us when people shop - Amazon will donate 0.5% of the net purchase price on eligible purchases. If you ever shop with Amazon, do have a look - once you pick Ocean Youth Trust South as your chosen charity and start using, you don't need to do anything further, and all your other Amazon account settings remain unchanged.

We've also been mentioning Easyfundraising in this newsletter for a while but we know a lot of our supporters haven't tried it, so we just wanted to highlight how easy it is! All it takes is to go to Easyfundraising and sign up (which is extremely quick and simple). If you want (it's entirely up to you) then you can even install a donation reminder on your web browser so that whenever you do a search for online shopping, you'll see whether each seller offers donations and how much (it's still up to you whether to make a donation for any particular transaction) - and it won't cost you a penny. If, instead of doing a search, you go direct to a seller's website, you may get a popup showing that donations are available.

There are really significant donations available for some larger purchases, and it still doesn't cost you anything. Some charities are making substantial amounts of money through easyfundraising, so please try it if you can.

There's no cost to you, and all it does is remind you of donations available so you can't forget it when you shop online - you can still opt out any time you like.

Back to index

Branded clothing
OYT South branded clothing available - please see here. You can buy hoodies (in a wide range of colours), fleeces, short- and long-sleeved t-shirts, baseball caps, beanie hats, polo shirts and more, all with OYT South's logo!

Back to index

Raise And Sail - website for anyone looking to raise money to come sailing
Raise And Sail is a section of this website full of ideas, information and support for young people who would like to raise money in order to come sailing with us. Huge thanks to Fiona Keen and Emma Burrows for putting Raise And Sail together. We hope you will find it useful - let us know how you get on as we can add success stories and new ideas to the site in due course.

Back to index

New readers' welcome and introduction
If you have recently registered your interest in OYT South, welcome to our newsletter, which is sent out almost every week, normally on a Friday, and is also copied onto the website.

If you have just started receiving this newsletter by email, it is because we believe you have signed up and consented to receive it - perhaps by emailing us to ask for it, completing a form on our website, or adding your email address to the book on board where people can sign up to receive news, as well as leaving comments. If this was a mistake or you simply decide you want to stop receiving the newsletter, just press “reply” to the email and write UNSUBSCRIBE at the top, or email webmaster1@oytsouth asking to unsubscribe.

Each week the newsletter includes a wide range of news from the boat and from the charity, including details of voyages available for young people; adult voyages; opportunities for adult volunteers both ashore and afloat, and much more. We find that while some people read the bulletin almost every week, many others dip in and out, and read it when it's convenient - which is why some items are repeated. New items are marked with an asterisk * so that if you did read it last week, you can see which sections you can safely skip.

Please feel free to join in any OYT South activities - nothing here is restricted to long-standing members or people who already know one another. New people are always very welcome!

If you need an introduction to the work of OYT South, you should find a lot of useful information on our website. But essentially, we are a registered charity (no. 1079959) which exists to offer adventure under sail as a personal development opportunity for young people aged 12-25, from the widest possible range of backgrounds. A high proportion of our young crew members are disadvantaged or deserving in some way: many of these sail in groups organised by other charities, youth clubs, special schools and so on, and will fill the bulk of our term-time voyages. But those from more fortunate backgrounds are also welcome to sail, either in groups or by coming as individuals on a mixed voyage. Every year we run a variety of shorter local voyages plus longer adventure trips - sometimes including Tall Ships races during the summer holidays. If you are aged 12-25 and hoping to sail as a crew member, take a look here - and this section is also useful for adults who are thinking of organising a voyage for a young person. Adults planning to organise a full group voyage should also see here. Adults who want to sail themselves should see here.

We have a professional staff skipper and engineer, but our watch leaders are normally all volunteers, who combine sailing skills with an interest in working with young people. You can find more information here - how the system works, how to join, and profiles of existing staff and volunteers.  

To volunteer for OYT South ashore, please see here. To help with the vessel's annual refit, see here.

It is a very expensive business maintaining a boat, running an office and employing staff. If you want to help us, please become a member of OYT South. Or see here for information on making a donation.

If you have any questions, please do email - or contact the office.

Back to index

Receiving this newsletter by email
Many thanks to all those who have given consent to receiving this newsletter by email. If you are not currently getting it by email and would like to, please just click here Newsletter Subscribe and press "send", or email

Back to index

“To be honest I never wanted to come, but I'm glad I did because I have learnt and seen so much!" Charlotte